The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

July 9, 2013

Auburn relying heavily on Harrell for turnaround

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — KT Harrell takes losing so hard sometimes his Auburn teammates have to steer him away from a game.

And that's just friendly ping pong matches. The Tigers are hoping that drive and Harrell's offensive skills will help them rebound from a miserable basketball season, while he was sitting out after transferring from Virginia.

"He is extremely competitive," Auburn teammate Allen Payne said while Harrell warmed up nearby on the practice court Monday. "We sometimes have to pull him off the ping pong table in the locker room, because he'll break paddles and stuff like that. He's a fighter and he's a scrapper. He's always been like that, from what I know. I think that's the biggest thing. He'll bring competitiveness and obviously physical talent."

Both attributes appeared to be lacking from Auburn's 9-23 team that lost its last 10 games and 16 of 17.

The Tigers are hoping Harrell will also fill some of the scoring void left with the graduation of guard Frankie Sullivan, along with the offseason defections of Jordan Price and Brian Greene Jr.

Auburn will probably need a significant impact from Harrell to turn things around this season, but he said that burden won't be too heavy.

"The pressure's going to be there, but at the end of the day, it's a game," he said. "It's a game that I love. I think all the pressure goes away when you step on the floor. "

Harrell spent two seasons at Virginia and averaged 8.0 points as a freshman. His playing time was dipping significantly in December 2011 — including just 11 minutes in his final two games — before he announced plans to transfer two days before Christmas.

Now, Harrell is the latest transfer from a major conference team that Auburn coach Tony Barbee is turning to for help. He's had mixed results from Varez Ward (Texas) and Noel Johnson (Clemson).

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